Oct 24, 2022 - News

New bill would open D.C.'s sport betting to new apps

Illustration of a slot machine featuring a basketball, baseball and football, ending in three dollar signs.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A new bill would open up D.C.'s much-criticized mobile sports betting program to big-name apps like FanDuel and DraftKings.

Why it matters: Since legalizing sports gambling in 2019, the D.C. government has only allowed its own GambetDC app to be used for online betting, except inside sports arenas and sportsbooks.

  • Users have long complained about glitches on the GambetDC app and the inability to access more well-known apps that are available across the river in Virginia.
  • D.C. initially projected to make $25 million off GambetDC, but it actually lost $4 million in its first year. GambetDC also crashed during the Super Bowl.

Driving the news: Council member Elissa Silverman introduced a bill on Monday that would allow sports betting on other regulated apps, ending the city’s total control over the market.

  • Three other council members — Charles Allen, Mary Cheh, and Brooke Pinto — co-introduced the bill. Legislation needs seven votes to pass, and it’s unclear if it has the momentum to pass before the end of the year.

Supporters of opening up the market hope competing apps will be more popular among users and increase revenue for the city.

The intrigue: The bill would also require D.C. Lottery’s controversial contract with Intralot to be terminated when it expires in 2024.

The D.C. Council narrowly voted in 2019 to give the Greek lottery company the sports wagering contract without a competitive bidding process. Intralot also manages the District’s traditional lottery program.

  • The bill would require competitive bids for any lottery and sports gambling contracts in the future.
  • D.C. Lottery and Intralot did not immediately return Axios' emails seeking comment.

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